Co-op market hopes to set up shop in former Northside Save-a-Lot

The Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative, a nonprofit that partners with organizations and individuals to create worker-owned businesses, is helping spearhead the grocery store effort in Northside. The group, along with the neighborhood, hopes to bring a grocery store co-op to the former Save-a-Lot building.
If fundraising goes according to plan, and enough community shares are sold by August 30, funding will be in place for the Apple Street Market Co-op to open in early 2015. But if that goal isn’t reached, the opening date will continue to be pushed back. 

Currently, almost 200 shares have been sold. Shares are $100, and are subsized for those who qualify for SNAP or free or reduced lunch.
Last fall, Save-a-Lot, which was the last convenient grocery store in the Northside area, closed. Now, the closest stores are the Kroger on Kenard and the one in North College Hill. They’re not easily accessible by riding Metro, and they’re not ideal for people who need that one last ingredient to make dinner.
“One of the reasons we think this co-op will succeed is because it’s important to have accessible food nearby,” says Casey Whitten-Amadon, legal consultant for CUCI.
Because of the lack of food access nearby, Northside is considered a food desert. The only options are fast food, which isn’t necessarily healthy, and convenience stores, which often mark up prices on basic items like bread, milk and eggs. Having a grocery store back in the neighborhood will help increase foot traffic to surrounding businesses, and will bring jobs to the area.
The Apple Street Market will be a full-service grocery store, with larger than average produce, organic and local food sections, as well as paper products and beauty products. Local food will be sourced through connections with Our Harvest, which will help Apple Street Market work with local farmers and butchers to get products you can’t find at Kroger, Whitten-Amadon says.
The co-op will offer unionized wages, as well as worker-ownership options. It will also be affordable for customers of all income levels, and accessible to those walking, biking, riding the bus or driving a car.
“Having a high-end grocery store wouldn’t solve the access problem,” Whitten-Amadon says. “That kind of model wouldn’t be sustainable in Northside.”
If you’re interested in purchasing a share in the co-op or want to learn more about it, come to Northside Rising, a 50/50 community fundraising event with PAR Projects, on Aug. 30 at 1622 Hoffner St.
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Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.